Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Wish You Were Here By Victoria Connelly : A Review

BOOK TITLE: Wish You Were Here
ISBN: 9781847562838, 9780007443239 
AUTHOR: Victoria Connelly
GENRE: Fiction
FORMAT: ePub, digital.
REVIEW BY: Dhivya Balaji
HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: A colleague recommended this book highly and lent me her ‘eReader’ for my reading.
          Wish you were here is a novel that is, at best, practical. That much cannot be said for many books these days. Much like the protagonist of the novel, Alice Archer, the story starts plainly enough, but then manages to dazzle as it progresses. Plain old Alice Archer has a full time day job, where men never notice her, and a house on rent that is big enough for one person. Alice also has a sister, Stella, who is her exact anti theses. Alice is plain, frugal and responsible. Stella is gorgeous, carefree and spends a lot.
          When Stella breaks up with a boyfriend, he leaves with her the tickets for a weeklong vacation in the island of Kethos in Greece. She invites her sister for the sake of company and Alice is glad for the change of scenery. In the island, she stumbles upon a beautiful villa where the gardener is a handsome hunk. She soon engages in holiday romance without knowing the secret the handsome hunk was hiding. They enjoy a whirlwind of romance but due to a twist in circumstances, they are unable to meet each other and Alice suspects he has a family with a wife and few kids.
          In Greece, she does something for fun that makes her life turn about. At home Alice deals with the problems in the forefront. Namely, her sick father, selfish sister and men who have now started noticing her. Once she gets back to England, Alice finds herself thinking with longing about Greece. And back in Greece, Milo is pining for her. Over the course of the next few months, Alice and Milo are unable to think of their own selves.
          A change of circumstances forces Alice to rethink her decision. She has had enough of the wish she made and decides to revoke it. But it means going back to Greece, and meeting Milo. How she manages to reclaim her life from the downward spiral and if or not Alice manages to settle in the love of her life forms the rest of the story. In the tale of love, family and life, the reader is taken on a roller coaster of two different locations, different people and totally contrasting lives.
          Praise must be given for the language and the humour of the whole book. It is filled with individual scenes that are noteworthy and some quite memorable. If the lead people are both wishing to each other, “Wish you were here”, the readers would wish at a few moments, “Wish I were there”. And this is one beautiful piece of work in that aspect. Though the book is a onetime read, there are a few worthy pieces to quote. Wish you were here is beautifully written, and is quite relatable.
WHAT I LIKED: Good character sketch, nice location switch, and relatable story line, clear and concise language with no dreary descriptions.
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: Predictable end, and certain clichéd unnecessary twists that make the reader go “Can’t you see even that?”
VERDICT: A perfectly content tale that does not disappoint.
RATING: 4.1/5
Victoria Connelly was brought up in Norfolk and studied English literature at Worcester University before becoming a teacher in North Yorkshire. After getting married in a medieval castle and living in London for eleven years, she moved to rural Suffolk with her artist husband and ever-increasing family of animals. She has had three novels published in Germany – the first of which was made into a film.
EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Kindle, paperback, digital.
PRICE: Rs. 467.99 for kindle edition

Saturday, October 26, 2013

A Country for Men by Rohit Kumar Singh Jadon : A Review

BOOK TITLE: A Country for Men

ISBN: 9781629519067

AUTHOR: Rohit Kumar Singh Jadon

GENRE: Non Fiction




REVIEW BY: Dhivya Balaji

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: The author sent us a copy for review.


          Most of the times it is really hard to come by a book that doesn’t involve all the critical elements required to make it a bestseller, but still becomes a book to treasure. ‘A Country for men’ is one such book. In the title, the author conveys the essence of the whole book in a single phrase containing four words. Yes, this is a book about how India has become (or always was and is) a country for men.

          It is time India woke up to the harsh and ugly side of the reality. Rohit has done a wondrous job in compiling the facts as such to present to the nation what it must have read by itself, already, over the years. But for most parts, the book proves to be a shocking narrative. Something about the way the author presents these facts is what makes me want to read this.

          Details previously written and unwritten in media previously, both visual and print, have been included in the book. The other side of every sensational story has been presented in a readable digest. This book is not something to cringe from. It is actually what every literate Indian must read, even if he/she has diligently followed the newspapers and expressed shock, regret (like one advocate general who has done in this book) where it was due.

          This book is sort of an inside story. Of what really happened. What you can read is not actually a collection of news articles or sensational press. The book is actually a detailed story of the families of the victims and the perpetrators. Of what happened and what led to these brutal incidents. They are shown for what they are. They are girls with aspirations, dreams, with intelligence, talents and as whole beings, not as items of sensation and piece of news in papers, forgotten as the week passed.

          It is not usually my practice to quote authors. But I find it appropriate to quote here just to tell you what you should expect from this book. Here are few excerpts,

·        “Well I could be lying here, creating sensation with my words in order to make you read this book. But all you have to do is to go on and find it out yourself whether or not I’m exaggerating the condition.”

·        “It is a culture that believes that the worst aspect of rape is the defilement of the victim, who will no longer be able to find a man to marry her — and that the solution is to marry the rapist.”

·        “But no nothing is going to get better, 40 rapes registered in Delhi in the last 15 days of 2012 while the protest was going on against the Delhi gang rape case in capital.”

·        “This book might be considered as a good read by some and few might think of it as rubbish. But I haven’t written this to become a literal success. I wrote this so that people should know what is going on with the women of this country. I want women not to suffer; I want them to stand up against the exploitation.”

·        “I wouldn’t mind if people would throw this book in the trash cans after reading but I will appeal everyone to spare just a moment to think about everything one just read”.

WHAT I LIKED: The boldness of the author in touching a subject most people would shrink or shy away from.


(The above column intentionally left blank)

This book is a presentation of facts. For the first time in the history of the blog, I am not writing anything in this column. Its time India woke up to dealing with a mighty ugly monster.


Classifying this book as a must read in the literary sense is difficult.

But this is a book every man must read to protect the women of his family and respect other women as family.

This is a book every woman must read to know that they are not alone in this fight, and there are ways to come out and be heard.

RATING: (Again intentionally left blank, as rating is demeaning this book)

But, again, the book is given a full 5/5, for the efforts of the author in bringing out something that most men feel queasy to even talk about.



Rohit Kumar Singh Jadon (RKSJ) has always taken a keen interest in travelling and the questions about life, which are hard to answer. An engineer by profession and a writer by passion; after being in and out of many jobs his passion have taken over his profession and he is now totally driven towards writing. After the success of his first book, he has written a much bolder book. This book is all about the injustice the women of this country face every day.

EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Paperback, digital.

PRICE: Rs.130


Friday, October 25, 2013

Revolution 2020 by Chetan Bhagat: A Review

BOOK TITLE: Revolution 2020
ISBN: 978-8129118806
AUTHOR: Chetan Bhagat
GENRE: Fiction/ Based on events.
FORMAT: Paperback
REVIEW BY: Dhivya Balaji
HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: On loan from a very friendly neighbour.
          Chetan has always been an author who knew the pulse of India’s youth. Like his previous offerings, this book too does not include any elements of fantasy, over the top action or unbelievable scenarios. Again, the protagonists are youth. And again, the author offers realistic story setting.
          This story follows young Gopal (the narrator) who is brilliant but does not fare well in education, living with his widower father, who soon leaves him due to multiple disappointments, Raghav, a brilliant, righteous young man who has ambitions in politics, and Aarthi, who has a long lasting love on the way ward Gopal instead of the good guy.
          Being friends since kids, Gopal finds himself forced to the bad path due to a combination of circumstances. When he tries to be righteous, the world mocks him, and when he turns way ward, the world shuns him. But Gopal survives the hardships and becomes the young director of a college and university.
          He befriends all sorts of people but still nurses his love of Aarthi. Across all his troubles he still yearns for her. Meanwhile, brilliant boy Raghav gets into a good position, and a reputable job. While he too, is a good candidate to get the hand of the leading lady.
          What follows is a story of success, betrayal, politics, and ultimately, love. There is also sacrifice, belief, trust, intense emotions in a typical Indian youth drama. But individual details of the story should not be analysed. It should be seen as a whole. And any typical judge of character would quickly jump to conclusions over the characters from page 1.
          But the author’s beauty lies in the weaving of the tale, developing a small spark into a readable 300 pages. An acceptable tale of love, and the feel of loss is fine in a story for light read. But if people look to gather something or expect some miracle, the book only gives a sour aftertaste. The good guy is bad, bad is the new good. Remove sensibilities from the bit of the story to read it without a sigh.
          After all, there is only so much that can be expanded to a 300 page novel. This is the sort of book that you get tired in about the first fifty pages but still plough on in the hopes of finding something and understand the plot somehow. So read away, enjoy. But go for it one time, expecting a movie that gains a 43% in rotten tomatoes rating.
WHAT I LIKED: The realistic story line. The author only says what is really happening.
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: Predictable story line, self sympathising narrator who tries to justify actions.
VERDICT: Go for it if you like the author.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Chetan Bhagat (born 22 April 1974), is an Indian author, columnist, and speaker. Bhagat is the author of bestselling novels, Five Point Someone (2004), One Night @ the Call Center (2005), The 3 Mistakes of My Life (2008), 2 States (2009), Revolution 2020 (2011), and What Young India Wants (2012). All the books have remained bestsellers since their release and three have inspired Bollywood films (including the hit films 3 Idiots and Kai Po Che!). In 2008, The New York Times called Bhagat "the biggest selling English language novelist in India's history". Bhagat, an alumnus of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi and Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, is seen more as a youth icon than as an author. Time magazine named him as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. Bhagat writes op-ed columns for popular English and Hindi newspapers, including the The Times of India and Dainik Bhaskar, focusing on youth, career and issues based on national development. Bhagat voices his opinion frequently at leading events. He quit his investment banking career in 2009, to focus on writing.
PRICE: 140

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Bridges Of Madison County by Robert James Waller : A Review

BOOK TITLE: The Bridges of Madison County
ISBN: 9780446364492
AUTHOR: Robert James Waller
GENRE: Romance
FORMAT: Paperback
SERIES / STANDALONE: Standalone (but contains an epilogue separately)
HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: A well thumbed, well recommended paperback dating back to the early nineties arrived to me from a neighbour.
          Romance was never my favourite genre. And if I do take up a book of this genre, it has to come with heavy recommendations, real moving stories and, you know, the works. This book did come with those. I was handed a really well-worn copy of the book which had seen many living rooms and many tears of joy, sadness, poignant reflections, etc.
          Given a slightly rainy weather and a rebellious ‘Why not try romance?’ attitude, I picked this book up. And to say that this book was not living up to its expectations would be wrong. What did I expect in a romance novel? Should there be sparkling fight scenes or historical facts that will blow your mind? This book will give you neither.
          Instead, this book is like a slow poetry. A lonely farm wife spends her days in an amicable neighbourhood. All is settled and well for her. In comes the enigmatic photographer, a man who is mildly poetic, much like a slow verse that is hard to understand, and its very beauty lies in that. You will enjoy the book if you like rainy evenings, hot teas and calm rooms with only the book for company.
          Francesca Johnson, a lonely farm wife finds herself attracted to the guy who can make her girly Italian dreams come true. He is the very embodiment of the twilight dreams she had as a girl. Robert Kincaid was to her what her husband could never be. When he arrives at her doorstep asking for directions, she finds herself drawn to him. Before long, the two strangers bond with cooking supper, candlelight dinner, and slow dances progressing to the bedroom.
          At 45, romance blossoms for Francesca towards the 52 year old wildlife photographer who is feeling too confined by the bland everyday life. Inside the graceful gazelle is a stalking panther that is breaking out of his norm when he finds this lonely farm wife who has intelligence hidden beside the calm easy going exterior.
          The plain evening turns into something magical and before long, the week of his work in Iowa gets over and finally it’s time for Robert to leave. And he offers to take her away from her life and just go into the western sunset. But Francesca refuses. This is a story that takes place in the sixties, and the farm wife, though tempted by the offer, declines as the images of her loving husband, kids comes in front of her.
          Francesca doesn’t want her kids to be shamed in the small town due to her selfishness. She braves the bittersweet romance instead of a shameful and selfish exit. There comes a time when she wants to rush out towards him, but the moments pass and she pours out all her feelings into a letter for her kids, asking them not to judge her for what she has done.
          The story starts with Francesca’s kids coming up to the author and asking him to write out their mother’s story. He starts and slowly gets involved with the story. So much so that he goes in search of Robert Kincaid only to find him dead. It would not be good to reveal the story and the twist of how and why it happened. Read it at your own leisure. And enjoy the story in its base principle:
          “Analysis destroys wholes. Some things, magic things, are meant to stay whole. If you look at their pieces, they go away”
WHAT I LIKED: The theme, slow movement of the story, poetic beauty.
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: Too slow paced, like the good old sixties, not quite suited for the modern sensibilities.
If you could understand, or want to know what it is to love so deeply and to leave that love for the sake of better good, read this book. (That’s how the reviewer feels)
Moreover, if you want to read about a love that would change your whole life and never leave you a same person again, go for it. (That’s how the author feels)
RATING: 3.5/5
          Robert James Waller (b. August 1, 1939, Rockford, Iowa) is an American author, also known for his work as a photographer and musician.
          Waller received his BA ('62) and MA ('64) from University of Northern Iowa (then known as Iowa State Teachers College). He received his PhD in business from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University Bloomington in 1968.
          Later that year he returned to UNI and began teaching management and economics, and in 1977 became a full professor. He became dean of the College of Business in 1980 and retired from that position in 1986. He made a "seven figure" donation to Indiana University.
          Several of his books have been on the New York Times bestseller list including 1992's The Bridges of Madison County which was the top best-seller in 1993. Both that novel and his 1995 novel, Puerto Vallarta Squeeze, have been made into motion pictures. Waller currently resides in Texas.
EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Paperback, Digital.
PRICE: Rs. 353 for paperback

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Krishna Key by Ashwin Sanghi : A Review

BOOK TITLE: The Krishna Key

ISBN: 978-93-81626-68-9

AUTHOR: Ashwin Sanghi

GENRE: Thriller Fiction


FORMAT: Paperback


REVIEW BY: Dhivya Balaji

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: A friend gifted me this coveted paper back for my recently passed birthday


          When I received this book as a birthday gift from a friend, she hinted at a really thrilling book that had all the individual elements of a mystery/ thriller genre. But she was not alone in this praise. The reputation of this book preceded it in the reading circles and the Dan Brown of India does not disappoint. Much like Robert Langdon of Dan Brown’s historical thrillers, this book has Ravi Saini as the protagonist.

          One of the features of this book that immediately allures to the readers is its dual story line. Much as each chapter ends with a thrilling note, each chapter also starts with the life story of Krishna as a first person narrative. The story of the eighth avatar of lord Vishnu, though initially deemed irrelevant, slowly progresses and merges into the present day story.

          To give a direct comment about the chapters of the story would be to reveal the story itself. But as a single point, there is the professor, his protégé, a deluded serial killer, an honest but bull dog tenacious police inspector, a corrupt policeman and innocent murder victims. Dan Brown, anyone?

          And then there is a cryptic seal that passes generations via families who are descendants of Krishna and how the seal attracts killers with ulterior motives forms the plot. Wrongly accused of murder of a friend, the protagonist finds himself in jail all the while trying to explain his innocence whereas his mind which is above all these mere formalities tries to puzzle out the clues left by his deceased friend. (Sigh!)

          The journey to find the elusive Krishna key takes the professor from Delhi to Jaipur and from there to Mount Kailas, the sacred abode of Lord Shiva. The bad guys follow the trail left by the Krishna key for more than a monetary gain and the professor and his female companion find themselves in mortal danger more than once.

          But inevitably they do succeed and again, their success leaves a lot to be desired, and a lot of questions are left unanswered. But the accuracy of historical facts and the really engrossing narrative of involving Krishna and the double often triple meanings to each sentence make the reader think twice about playing the guessing game.

          Being a fan of Robert Langdon and someone who has read all of Dan Brown’s books, I cannot help but notice the similarities. But the various twists and turns about often visited Indian locations are sure to make the readers go “Ah! Really?” every time they find out another ‘revealed truth’.

          How many times have we listened to the ‘Dasavathara slokam’ rendered by singers as a part of god worship? Which one of us would have thought that the same verses would end up being a murder trade mark? And how were we to expect that the fabled kalki avatar has indeed come. And is there really a connection between the ‘Mahabaratha’ and the modern day warfare? What if the ‘Brahmastra’ was really a nuclear weapon? These are some of the questions that will be answered if you read this book.

WHAT I LIKED: The captivating story line and the really interesting historical facts interweaved into the story.

WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: The absence of a closure is an expected disappointment.

VERDICT: If you are ready to challenge your previous historical notions about our temples, monuments etc, your religious beliefs about epics, and are ready to have an alternate third view of the birth, death and rebirth of Krishna, go for this book.



          Ashwin Sanghi's first novel, The Rozabal Line was originally published in 2007 under his pseudonym, Shawn Haigins. The book was subsequently published in 2008 and 2010 in India under his own name and went on to become a national bestseller.


          An entrepreneur by profession, Ashwin writes extensively on history, religion, mythology and politics in his spare time, but writing historical fiction in the thriller genre is his passion and hobby. Chanakya's Chant is his second novel in the genre. It deals with ancient Mauryan history and would be made into a movie.


          Sanghi was educated at Cathedral & John Connon School, Mumbai, and St Xavier's College, Mumbai. He holds a master's degree from Yale and is working towards a PhD in Creative Writing. He lives in India with his wife, Anushika, and son, Raghuvir.


Ashwin can be reached either

via his blog at,

via Facebook at


EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Paperback, Kindle, eBook

PRICE: Rs 125 for a paperback.


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Venice in Moonlight by Elizabeth McKenna : Book Blast!

Paperback: 194 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace
ISBN-13: 978-1492720195

A story of vengeance, forgiveness and love...

After her husband’s untimely demise, Marietta Gatti is banished from the family’s villa by her spiteful mother-in-law. She returns to her hometown of Venice and her only kin—a father she hasn’t spoken to since her forced marriage. Her hope of making amends is crushed when she learns she is too late, for he recently died under suspicious circumstances. Grief-stricken, Marietta retraces her father’s last night only to discover someone may have wanted him dead—and she may be next. When the prime suspect turns out to be the father of the man she is falling in love with, Marietta risks her future happiness and her life to avenge the death of a man she once hated.

Elizabeth McKenna’s latest novel takes you back to the days of Carnival and Casanova, where lovers meet discreetly, and masks make everyone equal.

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Nico shrugged in the French wingback chair they had placed by the fireplace for his portrait. He looked regal in a black silk suit trimmed in gold and a waistcoat of burgundy and gold leaf-patterned brocade. It seemed Raul had excellent taste in men’s fashions.
Marietta rolled her eyes before she settled in a chair behind the easel. “Please keep still while I draw.”
“May I talk?”
“I’d rather you didn’t.” Looking at him was going to be enough distraction. She didn’t need to listen to him also.
He ignored her request. “I have to ask—why Palladino?”
Marietta blew out an exasperated breath. “I can’t sketch you properly if you talk.”
“You could have chosen any man at the Consul’s villa. Casanova himself expressed interest in you, yet you leave with that pig.”
“It’s not what you think.” She compared her drawing to Nico and frowned. His shoulders were no longer in the same position.
“You didn’t have to suffer the man’s dismal lovemaking. What were you thinking?”
“We did not make love,” she replied through clenched teeth.
He continued as if not hearing her. “You’re the first woman in years that he didn’t have to pay, though he would never admit to his need for courtesans. I just don’t understand how you could find him appealing.”
“We did not make love.” She practically shouted it this time. “I’m not attracted to Palladino or any other man for that matter.”
This silenced him, gratefully, but only for a few moments. “Well, in that case, I know of a few courtesans that can accommodate you. I am told they are quite beautiful and skilled.”
Marietta threw down her charcoal and marched over to him. She grabbed his shoulders and repositioned him. “That is not what I meant and you know it.”
He smiled up at her innocently. “I didn’t mean to offend you, but you have refused my charms, so what should I think?”
She glared at him for her own benefit, knowing it would have no effect on the man. “You need to stop talking and moving.”
When he didn’t respond, she said, “That’s better.”
He lasted almost fifteen minutes. “So, what kind of man are you attracted to? Perhaps, I could suggest a few potential lovers.”
“How about one who has fewer conquests than fingers and toes? Or one that values honesty and fidelity over all else? Do you know any like that?”
From the thoughtful look on his face, he took this as an earnest question. “I’m afraid, Kitty, a man like that will be hard to find in Venice, especially this time of year.”
“Well, then, I guess I’ll have to go without.”
“How depressing. What will you do for amusement if you don’t take a lover?”
Marietta rubbed at her temples and decided she deserved more than the coins she’d already been paid. “There’s more to life than pleasuring oneself.”
“Yes, Signore, really.” She placed her stub of charcoal on the easel’s tray and rolled the stiffness from her neck and shoulders. “That is all for today. I have another appointment.” It was a lie, but she felt the need to rest and the bed in the corner was tempting her tired body.

About the Author:
Elizabeth McKenna works as a full-time technical writer/editor for a large software company. Though her love of books reaches back to her childhood, she had never read romance novels until one Christmas when her sister gave her the latest bestseller by Nora Roberts. She was hooked from page one (actually, she admits it was the first love scene). She had always wanted to write fiction, so when a psychic told her she would write a book, she felt obligated to give it a try. She combined her love of history, romance and a happy ending to write her debut novel Cera's Place. Her short story, The Gypsy Casts a Spell, is available for free on her website She hopes you will enjoy her latest novel, Venice in the Moonlight, as much as others have enjoyed her previous works.

Elizabeth lives in Wisconsin with her understanding husband, two beautiful daughters, and sassy Labrador. When she isn't writing, working, or being a mom, she's sleeping.

Connect With the Author

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